RI President-elect Barry Rassin’s theme for 2018-19, Be the Inspiration, asks Rotarians to inspire change in the world and in each other. “I ask all of you to Be the Inspiration to help Rotary move from reaction to action — to take a hard look at the environmental issues that affect health and welfare around the world and do what we can to help.”
Since Rotary was founded 113 years ago, its role in the world and in the lives of its members has been in a state of continuous evolution. In its earliest days, Rotary offered its members a way to find fellowship and friendship and to build connections within their communities. Soon after, service found a place in Rotary, and as our organization expanded, so did its influence. In time, Rotary’s service, supported by our Rotary Foundation, would change the lives of families and communities across the world. We formed partnerships and focused our service to increase our impact. We launched the world’s largest public-private health initiative, partnering with governments, international organizations, and countless local and regional health agencies to eradicate polio. More and more, our members came to us seeking not just friendship but a way to take action for good.
Rotary still is, and always will be, the organization Paul Harris envisioned: a place where people from every corner of the earth can come together to become something greater than themselves. Yet Rotary today offers something of singular and enduring value: the chance to be part of a global network of people who have the talent and the drive to change the world. We are men and women who believe in the power of community action to make a global impact — and together, we have the capacity and the resources to achieve almost anything.
Globally, Rotary is more relevant than ever before, and its potential for good is vast. Unfortunately, not enough people fully understand what Rotary is and does. Even within our clubs, many Rotarians don’t know enough about Rotary to take full advantage of what Rotary membership offers.
Rotary service transforms lives and communities. To achieve even more of that truly transformational service, we need to think differently about our role in Rotary, and Rotary’s role in the world. We need to put more emphasis on our public image, using social media to build our membership and attract the partners that can help us scale up our service. We need to focus on larger projects that have a more lasting impact, taking the time to research and plan work that spans Rotary years and terms of office. Most important of all, we need to Be the Inspiration for positive change, inspiring our clubs, our communities, and our organization to face today’s challenges head on, with courage, optimism, and creativity.
As Paul Harris put it, “Rotary is a microcosm of a world at peace, a model which nations will do well to follow.” To me, Rotary is not only a model but an inspiration. It shows us what is possible, inspires us to reach for it, and gives us a path to act — and to Be the Inspiration to our world.
The Rotary Foundation is the source of funding for our District and Global Grant Projects, providing clubs with funding for their local and global projects, just like our Nepal School project. All of this is only possible because we, as Rotarians, recognise the need to ensure that The Rotary Foundation has the resources required to fund these important activities.
The best way of funding of The Rotary Foundation is to become a Sustaining Member by signing up to make a personal donation.
Who is a Sustaining Member?
Anyone who donates as an individual donor US$100 or more per year to RFUK for the benefit of the Annual Fund of The Rotary Foundation is automatically recognised as a Rotary Foundation Sustaining Member.
The Annual Fund
Contributions to this fund provide essential funding for the Foundation’s cultural, humanitarian and educational programmes.
Why become a Sustaining Member?
Sustaining members are crucial to the Foundation. If every club member contributes $100 every year, we could double our efforts to help needy people worldwide and support the continued growth of programmes.
Want to know more?
Simply click on this link to download the information leaflet and standing order form: Become a Sustaining Member
Some years ago, a new acquaintance asked me what should have been a simple question: “What is Rotary?” I opened my mouth to reply and then stopped short with the realization that I simply did not know where to begin. The problem wasn’t that I didn’t know what Rotary was. The problem was that Rotary was — and is — too large and complex to easily define. We are a member-based organization, a club-based organization, and a service based organization; we are local, regional, and international; we are community members, businesspeople and professionals, working and retired, active in nearly every country in the world. Every one of our 1.2 million members has a unique set of goals, experiences, and priorities; every one of us has a unique understanding of Rotary.
To me, Rotary is defined not by who we are, but by what we do — by the potential that Rotary gives us, and the ways we realize that potential in meaningful and lasting service. Rotary has been around for a long time: 112 years. In some ways, we’ve changed tremendously, as we’ve grown, matured, and adapted to the changing needs of our members and communities. In our fundamentals, however, we remain the same: an organization of people with the desire — and through Rotary, the ability — to make a difference in our communities, and the world. We answer the question “What is Rotary?” with our actions, by making a difference through our service.
As an organization, we recognize how important it is that the world understand what Rotary is, and what we do. At the same time, we know that it is more important than ever to allow our clubs to define Rotary service for themselves. As Rotarians, we have more flexibility than ever to decide how we want our clubs to meet, work, and grow. We’re focused more than ever on making sure that Rotary reflects the people it serves, with more women and a more diverse membership. And we’re working hard to ensure that Rotary remains the world’s pre-eminent volunteer service organization, by emphasizing long-term planning, sustainable service, and continuity in leadership on every level.
In 2017-18, we will answer the question “What is Rotary?” with the theme Rotary: Making a Difference. However each of us chooses to serve, we do it because we know our service makes a difference in the lives of others. Whether we are building a new playground or a new school, improving medical care or sanitation, training conflict mediators or
midwives, we know that the work we do will change people’s lives — in ways large and small — for the better. Whatever motivation each of us had for joining Rotary, it is the satisfaction we find in Rotary that causes us to remain, the satisfaction of knowing that week by week, year by year, we are part of Rotary: Making a Difference.
Ian H.S. Riseley
President, Rotary International, 2017-18
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